Posted: Mon Dec 27, 2004 6:22 am Post subject: Jamatkhana Attendance
"It is my humble prayer that, when built, the Ismaili Centre in Dubai will be a place for contemplation and search for enlightenment, where people come together to share knowledge and wisdom. It will be a place of peace, of order, of hope and of brotherhood, radiating those thoughts, attitudes and sentiments which unite, and which do not divide, and which uplift the mind and the spirit."(Speech by His Highness the Aga Khan at the Foundation Laying Ceremony of the Ismaili Centre in Dubai)
The above statement of MHI defines the role of Jamatkhanas and the benefits that they are intended to provide the Jamats. The following article that appeared in today's Calgary Herald reports on the recent researches on the benefits of attending congregation.
Have faith for a longer lifespan
December 27, 2004
Those who made their annual trip to church Sunday may want to rethink their faith schedule.
Research shows that regular churchgoers live longer than non-believers.
A 12-year study tracking mortality rates of more than 550 adults over the age of 65 found that those who attended services at least once a week were 35 per cent more likely to live longer than those who never attended church.
The research also found that going to church boosted an elderly person's immune system and made them less likely to suffer clogged arteries or high blood pressure.
Susan Lutgendorf, psychology professor at the University of Iowa, who carried out the study, said: "There's something involved in the act of religious attendance, whether it's the group interaction, the world view or just the exercise to get out of the house. There's something that seems to be beneficial.''
Robert Wallace, a co-author of the report, added that doctors could even prescribe a course of church attendance to benefit patients.
"It was an interesting and provocative find,'' he said.
"I think that now, we will be trying to aggregate the meaning and experience of going to church to the extent that one can produce medical intervention based on a better understanding of that.''
The researchers found that among individuals who reported never attending religious services, the risk of death over the 12-year period was 52 per cent. By contrast, the risk of death of those who attended church services more than once a week was 17 per cent over the same period.
Thirty-five per cent of the 64 participants who never attended church died before the end of the study. By comparison, 85.5 per cent of participants who went to church twice or more a week survived.
Regular church attendance was associated with lower levels of interleukin-6, a chemical that can cause arterial damage at elevated levels and is linked to age-related diseases.
Although the researchers acknowledged that regular churchgoers could lead more abstemious lives, they insisted that they had factored these variants into the study by examining a control group of equally healthy non-believers. The variation, they said, had made no appreciable difference.
Posted: Mon Feb 07, 2005 4:04 pm Post subject: prayers
Notice how people can sit for hours and talk to one another, but call us to pray and we find it to be great difficulty. Why is this so? 1) Lack of desperation (realizing our dependence on God), 2) The wrestlings of the flesh, 3) Lack of faith to believe not only that God hears us but that He will move on our behalf. [David Wallace]
God hears desire: God hears hunger: God hears thirst; He does not hear lethargy. [Scott Lamb]
Prayer is faith passing into action. [Richard Cecil]
You can do more than pray after you have prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed. [Dr. A.J. Gordon]
The following article that appeared in today's Calgary Herald discusses the benefits of practicing faith regularly in terms of prayers and Jamatkhana attendance. The article speaks for itself and nothing more needs to be added.
Prayer's healing touch
New research shows a link between faith and good health
CanWest News Service
May 12, 2005
Brent McConaghy prays for a friend who has AIDS, though he knows she can't be healed.
"But I do ask the Lord to make it better for her so that she can deal with it pain-wise," says McConaghy, who describes himself as spiritual, not religious.
There's a growing body of research -- more than 1,200 studies -- that have explored the relationship between spirituality and health. Most of those studies have found that people with religion and spirituality live longer, are less depressed, less likely to get sick and less stressed than those who do not have spiritual beliefs.
One of the latest studies, from the Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care in Toronto, found the rate of decline in patients with Alzheimer's disease is slower among those with high levels of spirituality who practise their religion.
Dr. Harold G. Koenig of North Carolina's Duke University Centre for Spirituality, Theology and Health has been involved in a number of studies that he says show religion provides a wide range of health benefits.
Among them: people who prayed or studied the Bible several times a week were less likely than others to suffer from alcoholism; engaging in most religious activities was linked to having lower blood pressure -- the exceptions were watching or listening to religious TV and radio programs, which were found to increase blood pressure; elderly adults who attended religious services at least once a week were found to live longer than those who attended less frequently or not at all.
One study found the effect on survival was equivalent to that of not smoking cigarettes versus smoking.
"All the research suggests that (for prayer to improve health) it has to be done within a religious context," Koenig says.
"There are some studies that show meditation produces some health benefits, at least in the short term, but most of the research has been done among people involved in traditional kinds of religious activities -- prayer, attending services, reading the Bible, those kinds of things," he says.
If Koenig has a nemesis, it's Richard Sloan, an associate professor in the department of psychiatry at Columbia University in New York. Sloan basically shoots down most of the research in the field, including Koenig's, for failing to control for confounding variables, failing to control for fishing for the data and for inconsistent findings.
"Even in the best of studies, the evidence of an association between religion, spirituality and health is weak and inconsistent," Sloan has argued.
But is prayer behind a spiritual person's good health or is it religion as a social entity?
Studies have found that Mormons, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, are likely to live longer and the argument can be made that it has to do with the mores of the church, says Brendan Leier, a researcher with the John Dossetor Health Ethics Centre at the University of Alberta.
"They're very clean-living people who get lots of exercise, don't drink -- they tend to avoid more viceful, secular behaviour," Leier says. "Religious people generally are more clean-living. They tend to be people who respect principles and respect authority, so they may also respect simultaneously medical principles and medical authority that tells them how to live a clean life. That's the social argument."
Much more interesting, Leier says, is what the practice of prayer does for the individual. There are two types of prayer, he explains: petitionary or 'God, please make my grandma well,' and contemplative, known as meditation in the East and New Age religion in the West. The fundamental characteristic of a lot of New Age religions is contemplation and introspection, basically quieting the mind, Leier says.
"I think that practice can be shown to have positive effects on an individual's well-being and that carries through in the case of illness."
Duke University's Koenig agrees.
"If people can relax and take it easy and not obsess and worry about their health . . . if they can turn it all over to God or be comforted by their beliefs, it frees up the body's natural healing systems to do their job," Koenig says.
Skeptics of the power of prayer tend to look only at physical healing, they don't think of other healing -- spiritual, social -- that can go on when people get sick, Koenig says. Patching things up with an estranged friend or relative who may contact you when they hear you're gravely ill, for example, may be more important than improvement to physical health.
"Maybe God's plan for them is not to be physically healed."
Body & Health
When hope is not pinned wriggling onto a shiny image or expectation, it sometimes floats forth and opens like one of those fluted Japanese blossoms, flimsy and spastic, bright and warm. This almost always seems to happen in community.
-Annie Lamott quoted in "The Impossible Will Take a Little While"
From "Healing Words for the Body, Mind and Spirit," by Caren Golman:
In the late 1990s. psychiatrist David Spiegel published a study showing that women with metastatic breast cancer who belonged to a support group lived longer. Although I'm a real introvert who considers more than two people in a room a crowd, those findings didn't surprise me. Even I admit to occasionally feeling strong urges to connect with like-minded friends, peers, and my faith community just for the health of it. In fact, I have no doubt that our universal, innate yearning to be in relationship with others is, in part, rooted in a deep, abiding truth that healthy communities offer us protective immunity.
During times of illness and grievous personal loss, communities of friends, relatives, and even strangers gather round to nourish and fortify us physically, spiritually and emotionally by helping us to endure our pain, heal our wounds, and continue to say "Yes!" to life. Without asking, they eagerly pray for our health and survival, not just with words, but with deeds, too. They show up at our doorsteps and hospital beds with casseroles, cakes, cards, and other tokens of their concerns. They give us a hero's "hurray!" for making strides we may consider insignificant. They magically appear to pick up the balls we drop and keep them in play. And, at those times when the fact that we have nothing to say says it all, they just sit in silence with us.
It's no surprise to me that Spiegel's study showed that we do far better when we connect with one another. After my treatments for breast cancer ended, I started a support group. At the first meeting, each woman talked about her hopes, fears, and concerns about the future. While watching heads nod in agreement, I felt my own head doing the same. Looking into the eyes of those around me, I saw that I didn't have to experience exactly what each woman went through to know her story was my story. We were, that night and forever more, all in this together.
MHI in his many speeches recently has talked about the role of religions in the ethical formation of the society. The following article discusses the value of religion based institutions in view of the ongoing controversy of whether they are needed at all.
OPEN-LINE RELIGION CRITICS IGNORE VITAL WORK OF CHURCH
Recently, I was the guest on CBC Ottawa's weekly call-in show, Radio Noon. The question put to listeners was: "What does your religion mean to you?" It was a lively program with a wide cross-section or opinions expressed.
Thinking about the experience on my way home from the Toronto studio, however, I realized I should have done a better job of clarifying several key issues. Because of their wider importance, I'm going to make amends by sharing my thoughts on them with you.
Whenever you open up the phone lines on the topic of religion, you inevitably hear a lot of griping and negativity. There's no basic problem with that. A lot of people have been or are being hurt by religion in one way or another. What's more, given its history and current difficulties, religion, like politics, presents an enormous target.
As one who cares very much about the future of religion and the various world faiths, I remain extremely critical of certain aspects of institutional religion myself. One's hope is that by means of informed, constructive criticism organized religion can be challenged to further renewal and service in the cause of humanity and the rest of creation.
But there's another side to the story, one that often gets scant treatment. I'm referring to the incredible amount of good done by organized religion every day of the week. The radio callers had a lot to say about church "hypocrites" and the very real animosities and tensions caused by religion around the world. There was little appreciation of the unglamorous but vital Work done here and abroad by millions of believers of every stripe as they visit the sick, counsel the confused, care for the lonely and the elderly, and give generously of their resources to feed, clothe and house the needy everywhere.
Believe me, if it were not for the volunteer work done by church and other faith communities' members, if it were not for the social service leadership given by clergy and laity of every denomination and belief across this wide dominion, Canadian society itself would be a profoundly more callous, inhuman affair. We pay tribute, rightly, to inspiring giants such as Dr. Robert McClure or Cardinal Emile Leger (both of whom died a few days ago). We too easily forget the vast company of those whose names never get in paper but upon whose diligent caring so much depends.
The open-line callers talked as though religion and spirituality were synonymous, identical. They are not, and thinking they are can lead to serious errors and misunderstandings. A person's religion has to do with belonging to a particular grouping, accepting certain core beliefs or creeds, and performing specific rituals, meditations or other prescribed disciplines. It is basically concerned with external matters, with what one professes or performs.
Spirituality, on the other hand, is essentially an internal matter, an affair of the heart. It has to do with a mode of consciousness, a certain way of perceiving oneself, others, and the cosmos. It is the realization, as Jesus said, that the kingdom of God is within us and around us, that the ordinary contains the extraordinary, that the unseen is more powerful than the seen, and that matter itself is alive with Spirit.
You can be extremely religious, observing every rite, rule and feast day, and yet be as unspiritual as a lump of clay. There are many today who are deeply spiritual, in tune with the universe and its Maker, and yet are quite outside the bounds of religion altogether. Ideally, all religious people ought to have the inner attitudes and awarenesses suggested by their outward profession of faith.
Unfortunately, it frequently doesn't work out that way. As the Bible, for example, puts it, it is possible to spend one's life going to church or temple and saying "Lord, Lord ..." and still miss the inner reality entirely.
It's easy to assume from the above (and many critics seem to) that religious rituals, creeds, buildings, and other organizational structures are totally unnecessary. If the ultimate goal is the transformation of the consciousness of the individual and hence of the species itself, and if one can be spiritual on one's own, why bother with all the religious paraphernalia anyway?
This is one of those arguments which appears to carry considerable weight at first glance but which collapses on a closer inspection. I am not personally — and never have been — some kind of religious anarchist who inveighs against any and all kinds of institutionalized religion. As Aristotle once said: "Man (human beings) is a political animal." He uses "political" in the sense of intended or meant for communal life. It's very difficult (impossible?) to maintain one's spirituality and put it to work for others unless there is the support and encouragement of those of like mind. You need organization and institutions to get things done. The forces of irreligion are well-organized!
For me, the big question is not, Do we need organized religion? but, How can we keep renewing the organization so that it truly helps people's spirituality instead of getting in its way?
Fostering faith-filled communities
'A church can be the one constant,' theologian says
Saturday, April 12, 2008
Religious communities can still play an important role in an
increasingly urbanized society, says a leading British expert on fostering faith-filled cities.
Elaine Graham, professor of social and pastoral theology at the University of Manchester, told a Calgary audience this week that church communities need to be "lighter on their feet" in the future and keep an open mind to new possibilities of service to their neighbourhoods.
"On the surface, weekly church attendance in Britain is still extremely low. However, people are turning to churches as the developers and suppliers of important social services," Graham said.
She noted that during the sweeping economic reforms imposed during the 1980s by the Thatcher government in Britain, churches were often the lone voices of opposition, drawing attention to the social toll such policy was taking on England's poor.
"And a lot of people who probably wouldn't be caught dead inside a church started to recognize the role that the faith community could play in a modern, largely secular world," Graham added.
"Religion is on the agenda again in Britain in an unexpected way, even if the numbers in the pews are still low."
Becoming relevant to a younger generation seeking spiritual meaning in their lives, but bored by endless dogmatic debates and internal squabbles is another key for churches hoping to avoid the fate of the dinosaur.
"People want to express and to experience their spirituality in new ways: through music, drama and dance as well as prayer and sermons," said Graham.
"And churches need to be more flexible with their worship times and styles to attract a generation of people who have never had religion as a priority in their lives."
Graham predicts there will be more individual church closures and denominational declines in coming years. However, she says congregations that are open to sharing their facilities with other faith groups and social agencies can survive, and perhaps thrive.
"Churches need to listen to the voices of those who aren't being heard by society and then become their champions," says Graham.
"The parish system that many denominations have is a real plus because you are already at the grassroots, part of the fabric of your neighbourhood," she said.
"If your church can be the place where people might have their kids looked after in a day care or where they can get emergency help when they really need it, that's living out your faith in a way that connects with people."
Graham has spent years researching what elements are crucial to a healthy city. Her checklist includes strong leadership, a vibrant arts and cultural scene, progressive environmental stewardship and not only opportunities for creating wealth, but sharing it in a just manner.
And while regular Sunday attendance may continue to slide, Graham said many non-religious people can still feel unspoken affinity to the sense of the sacred found within their modest community church or a majestic English cathedral.
"A church can be the one constant in a rapidly changing city, the 'bearer of the memory of the neighbourhood,' so to speak," Graham says.
Graham's visit was sponsored by the Education for Ministry program and the Anglican Diocese of Calgary.
December 30, 2008
For Good Self-Control, Try Getting Religious About It
By JOHN TIERNEY
If I’m serious about keeping my New Year’s resolutions in 2009, should I add another one? Should the to-do list include, “Start going to church”?
This is an awkward question for a heathen to contemplate, but I felt obliged to raise it with Michael McCullough after reading his report in the upcoming issue of the Psychological Bulletin. He and a fellow psychologist at the University of Miami, Brian Willoughby, have reviewed eight decades of research and concluded that religious belief and piety promote self-control.
This sounded to me uncomfortably similar to the conclusion of the nuns who taught me in grade school, but Dr. McCullough has no evangelical motives. He confesses to not being much of a devotee himself. “When it comes to religion,” he said, “professionally, I’m a fan, but personally, I don’t get down on the field much.”
His professional interest arose from a desire to understand why religion evolved and why it seems to help so many people. Researchers around the world have repeatedly found that devoutly religious people tend to do better in school, live longer, have more satisfying marriages and be generally happier.
These results have been ascribed to the rules imposed on believers and to the social support they receive from fellow worshipers, but these external factors didn’t account for all the benefits. In the new paper, the Miami psychologists surveyed the literature to test the proposition that religion gives people internal strength.
“We simply asked if there was good evidence that people who are more religious have more self-control,” Dr. McCullough. “For a long time it wasn’t cool for social scientists to study religion, but some researchers were quietly chugging along for decades. When you add it all up, it turns out there are remarkably consistent findings that religiosity correlates with higher self-control.”
As early as the 1920s, researchers found that students who spent more time in Sunday school did better at laboratory tests measuring their self-discipline. Subsequent studies showed that religiously devout children were rated relatively low in impulsiveness by both parents and teachers, and that religiosity repeatedly correlated with higher self-control among adults. Devout people were found to be more likely than others to wear seat belts, go to the dentist and take vitamins.
But which came first, the religious devotion or the self-control? It takes self-discipline to sit through Sunday school or services at a temple or mosque, so people who start out with low self-control are presumably less likely to keep attending. But even after taking that self-selection bias into account, Dr. McCullough said there is still reason to believe that religion has a strong influence.
“Brain-scan studies have shown that when people pray or meditate, there’s a lot of activity in two parts of brain that are important for self-regulation and control of attention and emotion,” he said. “The rituals that religions have been encouraging for thousands of years seem to be a kind of anaerobic workout for self-control.”
In a study published by the University of Maryland in 2003, students who were subliminally exposed to religious words (like God, prayer or bible) were slower to recognize words associated with temptations (like drugs or premarital sex). Conversely, when they were primed with the temptation words, they were quicker to recognize the religious words.
“It looks as if people come to associate religion with tamping down these temptations,” Dr. McCullough said. “When temptations cross their minds in daily life, they quickly use religion to dispel them from their minds.”
In one personality study, strongly religious people were compared with people who subscribed to more general spiritual notions, like the idea that their lives were “directed by a spiritual force greater than any human being” or that they felt “a spiritual connection to other people.” The religious people scored relatively high in conscientiousness and self-control, whereas the spiritual people tended to score relatively low.
“Thinking about the oneness of humanity and the unity of nature doesn’t seem to be related to self-control,” Dr. McCullough said. “The self-control effect seems to come from being engaged in religious institutions and behaviors.”
Does this mean that nonbelievers like me should start going to church? Even if you don’t believe in a supernatural god, you could try improving your self-control by at least going along with the rituals of organized religion.
But that probably wouldn’t work either, Dr. McCullough told me, because personality studies have identified a difference between true believers and others who attend services for extrinsic reasons, like wanting to impress people or make social connections. The intrinsically religious people have higher self-control, but the extrinsically religious do not.
So what’s a heathen to do in 2009? Dr. McCullough’s advice is to try replicating some of the religious mechanisms that seem to improve self-control, like private meditation or public involvement with an organization that has strong ideals.
Religious people, he said, are self-controlled not simply because they fear God’s wrath, but because they’ve absorbed the ideals of their religion into their own system of values, and have thereby given their personal goals an aura of sacredness. He suggested that nonbelievers try a secular version of that strategy.
“People can have sacred values that aren’t religious values,” he said. “Self-reliance might be a sacred value to you that’s relevant to saving money. Concern for others might be a sacred value that’s relevant to taking time to do volunteer work. You can spend time thinking about what values are sacred to you and making New Year’s resolutions that are consistent with them.”
Of course, it requires some self-control to carry out that exercise — and maybe more effort than it takes to go to church.
“Sacred values come prefabricated for religious believers,” Dr. McCullough said. “The belief that God has preferences for how you behave and the goals you set for yourself has to be the granddaddy of all psychological devices for encouraging people to follow through with their goals. That may help to explain why belief in God has been so persistent through the ages.”
The article below which appeared in todays Calgary Herald discusses the social importance of places of worship in the downtown communities of the major cities...
New downtown needs churches, think-tank says
Faith component essential to city's soul, group argues
By Graeme Morton, Calgary HeraldApril 4, 2009
the Centre City Plan, an ambitious vision for a revitalized downtown Calgary approved by city council in 2007, calls for higher-density housing, open spaces to savour and a robust commercial sector.
But at least one organization wonders where is the city's soul in all this.
Cardus, a public policy think-tank that studies "social architecture," brought together local business, government and faith leaders last week to renew its call for the inclusion of a worship space component in any downtown redevelopment.
The group is hoping to raise $100,000 to conduct an inventory of existing downtown church capacity and study the relationship between faith groups and the collective values vital to a compassionate city.
"Where else in a city like Calgary do you have places where blue collar meets white collar, where people from all walks of life interact on a regular basis but in churches?" said Michael Van Pelt, Cardus's president.
"We need to take a serious look at the role of faith communities and integrate them into our city cores," he added.
"It's not just a Calgary question, it's one that many cities are wrestling with."
Van Pelt noted churches already play important social roles such as providing seniors care, the welcoming and integration of immigrants and fostering the arts. They also have large networks of volunteers which can be tapped if a natural disaster or civic emergency occurs.
The Centre City Plan projects an influx of up to 40,000 more residents to downtown by 2035, one step in addressing urban sprawl.
"A lot of people are going to be missing something in their lives if there aren't places to worship in these inner-city neighbourhoods," said Van Pelt.
Calgary's downtown is home to the cathedrals of local Roman Catholics and Anglicans. Storied places of worship such as First Baptist, Knox United and Grace Presbyterian churches rub their historic shoulders with construction cranes, corporate towers and upscale condos.
Peter Menzies, a senior fellow with Cardus, said with sky-high downtown land values, worship spaces don't need to be traditional, free-standing buildings anymore. They can be housed in multi-use venues where two or three faith groups can share worship space.
Menzies noted Calgary's downtown worship sites are almost exclusively Christian, not reflective of the city's increasing religious diversity.
"We have to look at ways to make provisions for Muslim or Sikh worshippers in the future downtown core, not just in the suburbs," said Menzies.
Ward 12 Ald. Ric McIver said civic and spiritual leaders need to strengthen communication lines.
"I like the premise of this study. There's no reason you have to ignore the spiritual component of a downtown core even though we're a big, complex city," said McIver.
The article below discusses the impact of the internet on the practice of faith. We already have one usage in the form of the Virtual Jamatkhana at this site. What are the pros and cons of this tendency?
Prayers in absentia: logging on to God
Pay-per-prayer sites seen as 'supplement'
By Misty Harris, Canwest News ServiceApril 12, 2009 7:51 AM
Are you there, God? It's me, the Internet. Prayer has gone digital with help from a new web service that allows people to outsource their holy communication to a computer. On Information Age Prayer, the faithful simply choose their preferred passages and a text-to-speech synthesizer gives voice to them at regular intervals, for a nominal fee.
Available e-prayers include Our Father, for Christians, the Fajr, for Muslims and, for the agnostic, a prayer for financial health --which ironically will set users back about $53 annually.
"I don't make any particular claims about efficacy, but I do believe that God is omniscient and He will hear (the prayers)," says creator James Mcarlos, who describes himself as spiritual but not religious. "Whether He listens or not is really a reflection of the subscriber."
The 23-year-old Bostonian says he designed the pay-per-prayer site for people like himself "who don't have time to put in the effort they'd like, to pray."
Rev. Gary Patterson, a United Church minister in Vancouver, says critics should be careful of judging the ways in which people find religion, however unusual they may seem. At the same time, he's wary that the service undermines a relationship with the Divine.
"Part of prayer is our own personal openness to the Spirit," says Patterson. "I don't see how that can happen with a machine."
The "prayer supplement" site, which has attracted 70,000 visitors since its March 16 launch, is just one of a growing number of ways in which technology is reshaping the sacred.
Canadians can now tithe (offer 10 per cent of one's possessions, salary or time) online, attend virtual church services, witness sermons on GodTube, register for text-message prayer reminders on Echo Prayer, share their prayers with others on Kindle, or seek fellowship on social sites such as Tangle, Muxlim and Islamica. Rev. Kevin Flynn, an Ottawa priest, says there are even "lazy preachers that just lift their stuff off the Internet."
Although Flynn happily acknowledges that computers make available "a rich array of material to which many people wouldn't otherwise have access," he warns technology also can give people a false sense of religious participation.
"Some people seem to think you can pull a lever and your salvation comes out," says Flynn, a professor of religious studies at St. Paul University. "It's not as if God could be bought off, cajoled or enticed simply by racking up recitations of prayer texts."
For David Dawes, multidenominational sites such as BeliefNet aren't a substitute for religion but a way to broaden his view of it.
"I tend (to go online) to look for sacred texts of other religions," says Dawes, a self-described Orthodox Christian who lives in Surrey, B. C. "I like to understand what makes other people tick."
The Right Rev. Colin Johnson, bishop of the Anglican diocese of Toronto, says technology has its place, provided it doesn't discount the human element.
"There's a vast difference in using a computer to connect friends to one another by Skype, e-mail or Facebook . . . and having the computer dial up a friend and deliver a pre-programmed mechanical daily greeting," he says. "I'm sure your mother would not consider the latter a 'visit.' "
Johnson supports using the Internet "to ask others to pray with you and for you," but not as a replacement for real-world religious citizenship. An estimated 25 per cent of Canadians go to church on a weekly basis; social scientist Robert Putnam says regular attendance has tumbled by about one-third since the 1960s.
At its deepest level, digital spirituality in its many forms might be evidence of "divine abandonment" in which people effectively isolate themselves from authentic connection, says a leading Canadian religious scholar.
"The great traditions of common prayer are, in part, an antidote to the dangers of private prayer," says David J. Goa, director of the Centre for the Study of Religion and Public Life at the University of Alberta. "Private prayer can too often be the projection of our own neuroses."
Having said that, Goa wryly adds that a computerized prayer for financial stability might still be "better than your average stockmarket investment."
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